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Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Kyle Rivas/Stringer via Getty Images

54% of Americans in the latest AP-NORC poll say the U.S. is heading in the right direction, marking the highest level of public optimism the poll has recorded since 2017.

The big picture: 71% of Americans approve of President Biden's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, bringing his overall approval rating to 63% after four months in office, according to the poll.

By the numbers: Despite his widespread popularity, approval of Biden's performance is still starkly divided along partisan lines.

  • 57% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, which breaks down to 91% of Democrats and just 19% of Republicans.
  • Of all the issues polled, Biden's immigration policies received the lowest overall marks at 43% approval. That includes 70% of Democrats and just 11% of Republicans.
  • There also remains a partisan gap with respect to views on pandemic risk. 69% of Democrats are still somewhat worried about getting infected with COVID-19, compared to 33% of Republicans.

Where it stands: The overall positive picture comes as coronavirus cases plummet across the country and the U.S. economy continues to reopen thanks to a successful vaccine rollout.

  • The Biden administration could face some headwinds in the coming months as the rate of vaccinations slows down and employers struggle to add more jobs.
  • And after passing his signature $1.9 trillion COVID relief package in March, Biden may have more difficulty getting Congress to approve his multi-trillion dollar infrastructure plan.

Methodology: The nationwide poll was conducted April 29-May 3, 2021 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,842 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.2 percentage points.

Go deeper

U.S. to advise COVID booster shots for most Americans at 8 months

A COVID-19 vaccination at New York's Stony Brook University. Photo: Raychel Brightman/Newsday RM via Getty Images

The Biden administration is coalescing around a plan to give COVID-19 booster shots to most Americans, the New York Times first reported Monday night.

What to expect: The booster shots would likely be given in the order the initial round of vaccines were administered, or around eight months after someone received the first two mRNA shots or the single Johnson & Johnson jab, a Biden administration official told Axios. This could potentially begin in late September.

3 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes mix-and-match for COVID booster shots

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on Wednesday gave its approval for Americans to get booster shots that are different from the COVID vaccine they initially received.

Why it matters: The recommendation from the FDA, which also authorized booster shots for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Wednesday, paves the way for an expansion of booster shots.

GOP congressman forfeits committee seats after indictment

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on Wednesday stepped down from his committee assignments after being indicted for lying to federal investigators amid a probe into illegal campaign donations.

What they're saying: In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Fortenberry said he is "grateful for the outpouring of support from my friends and colleagues as we work against the injustice confronting me."